Nadine Linneberg and her husband turned their gardening hobby into a business.
What’s your story?
I started gardening as a hobby 5 years ago to combat stress at work (I’d worked in TV production for well over 15 years) and genuinely couldn’t keep a cactus alive until my husband designed a DIY vertical aeroponic system that fit on our little apartment balcony. We became wildly successful at edible gardening, growing all kinds of herbs, leafy greens, tomatoes and cucumbers. With a lot of encouragement from friends and family, we developed the system into the easy to assemble and shippable product that it is today, the Aerospring Garden.
What excites you most about your industry?
I’m excited about the impact it has on the individuals we have touched, the Aerospring Garden has enabled so many to grow their own food right at home. There are so many reasons why everyone should grow a little of their own food but with climate change, it’s becoming a lot more urgent and compelling to think about how our food is grown, where it comes from and to understand how we get our food, especially in highly urbanised cities like Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and am of mixed heritage – my father was a German expat who came to Singapore in 1969 and my mother is a local Chinese school teacher. Although I left Singapore as soon as I finished school in 1997 to live in Sydney, New York and Paris, I came back after 11 years and have made the little red dot home and my base again.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course! Business friendly, safe and efficient, I’ve never had to deal with too much bureaucracy. It’s easy to network and make new contacts, it’s a relative breeze to get around the island for meetings, the airport is a dream and connects anybody to the rest of the world in a heartbeat.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Someone once told me that people inherently like to talk about themselves and that it was very easy to lead a conversation just by talking about yourself. The advice I received was to sit back, listen and then engage with genuine interest. It’s benefited me immensely in business and in my relationships with friends and family just being conscious of this.
Who inspires you?
I’ve recently become a mother so having now gone through that journey myself, I have a deeper understanding of what it’s like to go through the process of pregnancy, birth and nursing an infant. It’s not been easy doing all this while running your own business so I’m inspired by all working mothers who manage to hold down a job/run their own business, children and a household.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I recently watched the Great Hack on Netflix and was astounded to learn about just how much data and information we have offered up on a platter to companies like Facebook. The data tracking, harvesting, targeting and algorithms that have been employed over the years are downright scary and it’s not been put to good use. The world has become so much more connected with the internet and by extension social media. But it’s also become such a dystopian world online that I feel like we have to take a step back and really think hard about what we download, how we search and what applications we interact with for the protection of our own identities.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I never like to like to dwell on regret but if I did have a magic button to take me back in time, I would have traveled more across the US when I was living there. I was very East coast centric when I was living there and I feel like I’ve missed out on seeing large swathes of the country – places like Texas, California and Colorado. I had plenty of opportunities to do so but I feel I wasn’t adventurous enough, even though I was living in New York City!
How do you unwind?
It’s been hard to think about unwinding for the last 12 months since becoming a mother. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done at work and then find some “me-time” but when I do, I still like to garden – I am often in our nursery preparing little seedlings for sale, or outside harvesting and trimming plants. Gardening is therapeutic and I like to take little breaks from my desk and time out doing this.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket is my destination of choice because it’s so easily accessible, both to get there and to get around. It has everything I need to unwind and relax: Great beaches, amazing food and quality spas and massages at really affordable prices.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a book I picked up one Christmas as a gift for my partner. I ended up reading it myself because I found the subject so intriguing. It basically explains how habits are formed, explains how and why they are computed in the brain and provides concrete science, research and real-life stories to make the read so interesting. I discovered a lot about my own habits and the book kind of gave me a key to interrupt and change some of them. It’s allowed me to be more conscious about them both personally as well as in my professional life
Shameless plug for your business:
No soil, no mess lots of success! The Aerospring Garden is a vertical aeroponic gardening system that is easy to set up and maintain and allows you to grow up to 36 edible plants in less than a square metre of space. It’s designed for sunny balconies, rooftops as well as gardens and grows a wide variety of leafy greens, vegetables, herbs and even some fruit. Just fill the tank with water, dose with nutrients, connect to pump to a power socket, add little seedlings to the plant pockets and you’ll start harvesting your own food in 6-8 weeks. You can convert the outdoor system to an indoor one with the tent accessory kit too if you don’t have an outdoor space to grow!
AerospringG – but I am a lousy tweeter. I’m much more active on FB, IG and LI!
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.